Saying goodbye to an interesting project, water jet patent up for sale

A few years ago me and two companies worked on designing a water jet based cutting technology. One partner went out of business and the project has been on hold since.

Project up for sale

All good things come to and end and this project is no different. Starting out as an ambitious partnership between me as the general CAD engineer / designer, a company in construction with a need for a solution and a production company with experience with precision pumps and water jets we made good progress sketching, discussing, engineering towards an actual prototype platform. Things came to a sudden halt though, when our production partner had to retreat his involvement, for personal reasons. The required knowledge for a project like this is quite specific, so we had to either find a new partner with the knowledge and willingness to help or attract enough capital to obtain the knowledge ourselves. While looking for either other projects came along and long story short: the project didn't progress as much as needed.

Evaluating the project future there were three paths possible:

Keep the patent (optionally with external participation to help cover the fees), wait until someone else brings a product to market and force them to license. This is actually a pretty common strategy, Espacenet is full of patents written specifically for this purpose.

Drop the patent altogether and write off the project. This would essentially make the idea public domain, meaning anyone can develop a product based on the ideas and technology. The downside for those others is that none of them can protect their R&D to the same level as the current patent, since the current patent will be prior-art to any newly submitted patent. This makes the technology commercially less desirable and the chance of this coming off the ground soon less likely.

Third option is to sell the project as a whole to someone who'd be able to continue it. This would give this company a head start in the market, plus all the protection offered by the patent.

I chose to take route three, quite simply because compared to dropping the patent I'd recover some of the costs of the project. Option one doesn't appeal too much to me because I prefer to work on creating things.

Water Jet patent image
Water Jet patent image

Further reading

A small project overview page is here:

Or in Dutch:

The project / patent is up for auction at Mobile integrated Water Jet cutter for handheld use